Summer league play doesn’t necessarily mean very much.
For instance, Shake Milton shot abysmally in Las Vegas two years ago before spraining his left ankle. Months later, he started playoff games for the Sixers.
There’s often something to learn, though, whether it’s better understanding how a rookie’s game will work in the NBA or glimpsing an undrafted gem with eye-popping talent.
With the Sixers opening their summer league slate Monday, here’s our preview:
When do the Sixers play?
The Sixers will have their first four games at the following times:
- Monday, Aug. 9: Mavericks, 4 p.m. ET on NBA TV
- Thursday, Aug. 12: Hawks, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2
- Saturday, Aug. 14: Celtics, 5 p.m. ET on NBA TV
- Sunday, Aug. 15: Timberwolves, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The two teams with the best records through four games will play in a championship game on Aug. 17. Every other team is guaranteed a fifth game on either Aug. 16 or Aug. 17.
Who are the Sixers’ key players?
Every Sixers draft pick from the past two years is expected to participate.
As a refresher, those players are Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, Jaden Springer, Filip Petrušev and Charles Bassey.
What kind of development should we expect?
Summer league is full of youngsters. There should be minutes aplenty for players such as Joe and Reed, but they’ll likely be in far larger roles than they’d assume anytime soon in the NBA. New skills or expanded range would be great, but nailing the basics in a way that might eventually earn Sixers head coach Doc Rivers' trust would be nice, too.
Maxey told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey he’s aiming to become a better facilitator. We’ll see how he fares running the team and whether he’s added some tricks since the Sixers’ second-round loss to the Hawks.
Springer’s strength was an asset at lower levels. Will that still be the case? The 18-year-old’s spot-up shooting from behind the NBA three-point line will also be interesting to watch. Given the defensive talent he possesses, it would be encouraging if Springer shot threes well and created the occasional shot for himself.
The Sixers obviously liked Petrušev and Bassey enough to draft them in the second round, but this is a good opportunity to further evaluate the big men.
Who else is on the roster?
Below is the Sixers’ summer league roster in full:
And here’s a note or two on every player we haven’t mentioned so far:
Tucker signed another two-way contract with the Sixers earlier this week. He’s a spectacular leaper who doesn’t mind creating contact and challenging bigger players.
The Sixers’ other two-way player at the moment, Henry is an undrafted wing from Michigan State. He did some of everything for the Spartans and posted a 2.4 steal percentage and 4.1 block percentage as a junior.
Nix was a five-star high school recruit who played alongside No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green on G League Ignite. The Alaska-born 19-year-old is a gifted passer and could perhaps thrive in the chaos of summer league as a point guard who generally plays at a controlled pace but likes to throw the ball ahead to open teammates.
Frank Mason III
The oldest player on the roster at 27 years old, Mason’s presence means the Sixers have the G League MVPs from both the 2020-21 and 2019-20 seasons in Reed and Mason, respectively. Mason was on the Delaware Blue Coats roster for last season but signed a two-way deal with the Magic before Delaware began play in the G League bubble. That NBA stint with Orlando didn’t work out as he suffered a groin strain in his fourth game.
Ballock is a lefty sharpshooter. Over his final three seasons at Creighton, he made 41.4 percent of his 6.6 three-point tries per game.
The versatile Key was a rookie bench player last year for the Blue Coats. Though not renowned for his shooting, Key scored 21 points and converted 5 of 6 three-point attempts in Delaware’s semifinal win over Raptors 905.
Matthews impressed at a Sixers pre-draft workout in June 2019, then tore his ACL at a Celtics workout about a week later. The defensive-minded Michigan product spent the 2020-21 season with the Canton Charge.
Peters played in Turkey last season after putting up strong numbers in 2019-20 with the G League’s Westchester Knicks: 17.8 points, 7.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
Green was a late addition to the Sixers' summer league team, per Pompey. He's the younger brother of Danny Green, who officially re-signed Saturday with the Sixers, and a former Indiana Hoosier. The 24-year-old played in Greece for his first post-college year but ended his season early after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.